CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Quarantine Citizens

Slate analyzes the recent isolation of a TB-infected man in the context of the government's authority to quaratine citizens.

According to Slate:

When can the government quarantine its citizens? When someone has been exposed to diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, SARS, and a new strain of influenza with pandemic potential. That's the federal government's list, which changes only by executive order; states may have their own. Patients who have actually been infected, like the Atlanta man, are technically under "isolation," not quarantine.

But it bears remembering that the government's list can change at any time and so can the state's.

The Constitutional imperative of the 10th Amendment, which relegates to the states the power to regulate health, safety, welfare and morals, is strong. That same power has been used by courts to uphold forced vaccinations, forced medication, and many procedures, and to trump the patient's right to a more robust health care freedom (including various complementary and alternative therapies), the physician's interest in providing therapies of choice, claims of a 'free speech' right to provide various therapeutic services, and other claimed individual liberties. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives.

"But in general," Slate concludes, "the government rarely has to exercise these powers, because most of the time, citizens cooperate."
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on holistic, alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies. The law firm represents medical doctors, allied health professionals (from psychologists to nurses and dentists) and other clinicians (from chiropractors to naturopathic physicians, massage therapists, and acupuncturists), entrepreneurs, hospitals, and educational organizations, health care institutions, and individuals and corporations.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This book completes the cycle begun in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), and continued in Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

As of 2007, health care and corporate attorney Michael H. Cohen has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing). For more information, see the FAQs for the Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen.

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